Safari Inn

31"x20" oil on canvas As I develop (change, grow, travel down this ever-winding path—insert whatever verb or catchy phrase you like here) as an artist, I often find there are subjects I contemplate addressing again, if only to see how I would handle them now. Having the standard-issue frantic life with the accompanying limited memory capacity, I rarely follow through on these thoughts (wisps, inspirations, contemplations, whirlwinds of inspiration, nodules of creative thought clouds—again—insert whatever noun or phrase you like here). The above is one of those rare subjects. I just think it is such a cool sign AND I almost got killed shooting the plethora of scrap I needed to do it. ••• So, here it is again, embarrassed in globs of oil paint. ••• This painting is currently residing over at the George Billis Gallery/LA, along with two other of my paintings. Please go check them out if you find yourself within a reasonable distance from the gallery. I pasted the gallery's details below for your convenience and viewing pleasure.

George Billis Gallery/LA
July 18 - August 22, 2015
2716 S. La Cienega Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90034
310.838.3685 / www.georgebillis.com
Summer Hours: Tuesday - Saturday, 10 am - 5 pm

Posted July 28, 2015

The Black Star Apts

6"x4" oil on masonite panel As promised.... here's the last one! If you can, go to the opening night for The Cityscape Show this Saturday! I will be there along with three of my pieces. See details below

Posted July 16, 2015
 
sold • private collection los angeles, ca






•••••

The Cityscape Show V

July 18 - August 22, 2015
Opening Reception: Saturday, July 18, 5 - 8pm
George Billis Gallery/LA
2716 S. La Cienega Boulevard / Los Angeles, CA 90034
310.838.3685 / la@georgebillis.com
Summer Hours: Tuesday - Saturday, 10:00am - 5:00pm

The Yellow Box Apts

6"x4" oil on masonite panel Yellow is a great color. It being such a weak hue and so easily picked on by the other colors on the palette, the challenges naturally draw me to it. Here is the second of the three apartment paintings up for auction. I will try to post the third on Thursday(ish). In other news... I will have three pieces in the George Billis Gallery's upcoming group show. The opening reception is this Saturday night and the show is called The Cityscape Show V. Details below.

Posted July 14, 2015
 



 
•••••

The Cityscape Show V

July 18 - August 22, 2015
Opening Reception: Saturday, July 18, 5 - 8pm
George Billis Gallery/LA
2716 S. La Cienega Boulevard / Los Angeles, CA 90034
310.838.3685 / la@georgebillis.com
Summer Hours: Tuesday - Saturday, 10:00am - 5:00pm

The Aqua Apts

6"x4" oil on masonite panel I have often been asked if I painted smaller versions/studies of the six mid-century apartment buildings I painted a little while ago. The answer is no. I did however paint three studies of other apartment buildings I may or may not paint larger later on. (You may see all three together below.) Feel free to chime in on whether or not they qualify as possible larger pieces. I am on the fence right now (my usual location). Seeing as how Friday is our National Day of Non-Creativity, I thought I would put the three paintings up of auction one right after the other, 1-2-3, starting with the one I refer to as the "The Aqua Apts."

Posted July 10, 2015
 
sold • private collection front royal, va


 

Einstein, Albert

6"x4" oil on masonite panel This is developing into a bad habit. Whenever a picture of Mr. Einstein and I cross paths, I paint a painting of him. Oh well, I do have worse (much worse) habits, so I guess I can live with this one. Painting from black and white photographs is a great exercise. It brings on my full palette and, as long as I hold my values true, it usually holds together. If it doesn't, I will have ticked off a bunch of dead guys' ghosts. 

Posted July 7, 2015
 
sold • private collection washington, dc

Old Monrovia Gas Pump

15"x10" oil on masonite panel I have hesitated showing you this painting before, not because of the painting itself, but because of the photograph of the painting. You see, this piece was "professionally" photographed and I had not come to terms with that, until today. So here it is. Whenever I am lucky enough to discuss my paintings with the poor suffering photographer, we often disagree on the outcome, but we almost always find common ground on what it took to achieve that outcome. Our mutual whine isn't about the peaks and valleys of my carvings—they usually can be overcome with good lighting and the use of cross filtering and a subtle voodoo chant (or two). No, our communal angst is focused on my color work. There is always a sentence in our discussion that resembles this: "Man, I love your work, but your @#$%& colors drove me nuts!" To which I respond with a hearty, "Thank you!" ••• Color experimentation is integral to what I do. A result of this push-pull—especially clashing my warms and cools together against their will—is that some of my color mixing has become simplified. Sometimes a color that might have included 5 to 6 members on my palette, may now be made up of only 2 to 4. This usually increases the fight, making it harder to achieve whatever my addled brain is trying to achieve. The painting above may not be the best example of the following, but if you ever see me refer to "sweet" colors, simplified color mixing is often what I am talking about. The purer the color is from the tube, the sweeter it is. I guess sweet is my lazy term for intensity. Or, it could just be me thinking about cookies.

Posted June 30, 2015

Onion Sprouted

6"x4" oil on masonite panel For all of you who were wondering if I still painted these little 4"x6" paintings, the above is your answer. I know that I haven't been doing as many as I used to, but they are useful to me as an artist, so I still do them. And, continuing an age old, time honored artistic tradition, I stole this subject from the kitchen. Pilfering being a natural component of daily painting, how could I walk past this wonderfully bolting onion and not notice (lift) it? Composing paintings in your head (a.k.a. insanity) is another remnant curse and I could just envision this onion balancing the way you see it here. If it didn't cooperate? Well, some sort of nasty sticky stuff could have been employed to make it bend to my will. Happily, the onion chose to cooperate. 

Posted June 25, 2015

sold • private collection los angeles, ca

Little Toy Fireman

12"x8" oil on canvas panel As it is with most parental units, I view small toys, such as the one above, not as benign, cute little thingies, but as evil anti-barefoot terrorists hellbent on wreaking havoc on my nocturnal wanderings (usually to the fridge). Whilst this little guy doesn't have the sharp edges of say... a LEGO mini figure—the most nefarious evil doer in existence—he is just as dangerous, for he is not a lone gunman. This little guy is a member of a cell of four yellow jacketed terrorists, all belonging to the same engine company. Led by a grandmotherly figure with an axe in her belt, their strategy is to line up in the middle of the doorways leading to the kitchen. And they seem to always be in the doorway I choose, it's like they can read my mind (or my stomach). Freaky. Oh yeah, there is evil at work here.  

On an artistic note: I kind of sort a wonder what this little guy would look like as a five foot tall painting(?). The Spousal Unit is not too sure about it. But then again, she has to listen to my insane rants about evil toys plotting against me. My judgement may seem a bit cloudy to her.

Posted June 23, 2015

GE Clock Radio Red and Square(ish)

8"x12" oil on canvas panel With this post, I put this series to rest. I will not kid you or myself and commit to this being the last mid-century clock radio I will ever paint. Let's just say it is the last for a good, maybe long, while.



Posted June 18, 2015

sold • private collection irvine, ca

Charles Dickens

10"x10" oil on canvas It's "Let's paint a dead guy!" time again. I did a little 5"x5" of Mr. Dickens earlier and I have always wanted to do another. So, here he is, painted a bit bigger, entirely with knives and with a heck of a lot of paint.

Posted June 16, 2015

John's '55 Rumi

32"x48" oil on canvas Since it appears that I will be bothering you only once this week with my art and inordinately inane commentary, I thought a larger painting somehow apropos. This piece is 4 feet wide and made a valiant attempt at killing me. Instead of following my usual method of painting a new subject smaller—get familiar with the nature of the person/place/thing—then taking it larger, I just jumped from the plane without a parachute and started large with this. There is no small version. This pristine motorcycle is a piece of art in itself and all of its little details—especially the spokes—were new to me. Combine that with my method of wet-into-wet painting and engaging such finely beautiful details on a rather large scale seems... a bit... unwise. Since I use my paint straight from the tube, wet-into-wet means I have only a short amount of time until my paint starts fighting back. Even large globs of oil paint start to skin over quicker than you might think, leaving me with a limited amount of "live" time to complete a painting. Also, my direct style is not really compatible with being reworked and, quite frankly, once I am done with a painting, I'm done. Mentally I have already moved on to the next homicidal maniac of a painting. Anyway, through the cussing and spitting, the painting and I both survived delivering the result you see above. After that verbose, full-bodied "whine," you might think that I would never want to paint another one of these beautiful machines again, but as it is with off-kilter people like me, I'm starting to get the itch to possibly take on the challenge again.

Posted June 11, 2015

The Capri Apts

24"x16" oil on canvas The Capri is the last of this series. It is appropriate being the last. The building of my ancient memory that sparked this project was called the Capri. The search for my Capri revealed the building was long gone. Its demise seemed to trigger something in me—something akin to an artistic challenge. To accomplish this project, I researched and photographed close to 50 buildings—in one city alone—and probably as many more in various cities across Southern California. Quite frankly, I lost count. I also lost count of how many plain-o'-nasty leers I received and how many truly nice people I encountered with their plethora of questions. My two answers to the most common question, "What do you do?" received the typical reactions. If I answered "I'm an artist," I received a poorly veiled look of pity, the one I have received hundreds of times (the pity being mostly for my "poor" wife). Or if I responded with the other answer, "I'm a painter," I was asked to supply a quote for painting their kitchen (cabinets and all).



Posted June 4, 2015

sold • private collection beverly hills, ca

The Mar Vista Apts

24"x16" oil on canvas Here is another in my series of six apartment building paintings. I do not hide that I take (extreme) artistic license in my representation of these buildings. Most of the actual buildings have been modified over the years—some to the point of being absolutely butchered. That being typed, this is the painting that is closest to how the building still looks to this day. Over the years, some pretty hideous metal awnings were added and a large magnolia grandiflora tree has grown up in front of it. So, I cut down the tree, removed the awnings and voila!, you have a wonderful building on two stilts the relative width of toothpicks.



Posted June 2, 2015

sold • private collection beverly hills, ca

GE Clock Radio Pink

8"x12" oil on canvas panel This painting is one in a series of six, three of which I have shown you before. In case you forgot, I have included the entire series below. I told the story of how this series came about a few times this last weekend at the Beverly Hills Art Show. When I say a few times, I mean in the neighborhood of 3,000 times. Being the gas bag that I am, here is it once more. Another "What the... I thought I posted this!" painting. Hopefully, you can forgive the mistake because I did post the smaller version of it and probably took it for granted that I showed you the larger one. When I type larger, I mean just a bit larger at 8"x12" in size. I initially did three of these (white, green, and pink) hoping they would sell as a series. Then, somebody sabotaged me by purchasing the white Emerson, so I went ahead and painted the red GE to keep the trio (pink, green, and red) going and somebody bought all three together. I admit that it is gratifying that the trio will stay together to be enjoyed by somebody as a set. (See all four below.) 



Posted May 27, 2015

sold • private collection irvine, ca

The Orange Grove Apts


24"x16" oil on canvas This painting is one in a series of six, three of which I have shown you before. In case you forgot, I have included the entire series below. I told the story of how this series came about a few times this last weekend at the Beverly Hills Art Show. When I say a few times, I mean in the neighborhood of 3,000 times. Being the gas bag that I am, here is it once more. My nuclear family currently resides in the city from whence I came. Yep, I was born here. One day I got this urge to go looking for a particular building I vaguely remembered from my childhood (my entire childhood is a vague memory, but let's skip that story). It was a typical mid-century California soft-story apartment building with the name "Capri" in script on its front. (Soft-story means that the front of the building might collapse during an earthquake—basically, you go to bed at night, an earthquake hits and you wake up on the hood of your Honda.) Don't ask me why I wanted to see it (see "vague memory" reference above), I just did. As with most anything in this city that is really neat looking, has historical value and is really worth saving, it had been torn down. This bummed me out and brought on a slight obsession with this oh-so Southern California building. They truly are So-Cal icons. The more I researched them, the more I felt I had to paint them. There it is. Not much of a story, but it's what I've got. ••• Oh, I almost forgot. If The Spousal Unit ever tries to tell you some wild story about me driving the car up onto the sidewalk (a few times—and maybe a few lawns too) trying to research these buildings and how she had to take command of the car so I would not kill us, don't believe her. I will deny everything.

My Report on The Beverly Hills Art Show
I have a base set of criteria that needs to be met before I consider a show good. As many of you may know, number one on my list is me not getting tasered by the wonderful BH Park Rangers. That criteria, thankfully, was met. I will not bore you with the rest of the list which goes all the way down to the accessibility of cookies. The following sentence is a repeat of what I reported last time, but it is true again: The show last weekend was probably the best Beverly Hills Art Show I have had. The weather was great, the friends wonderful and the sales brisk. The ever-lovely She Who Ultimately Gets All the Money Anyway was there, which is high up on my list of criteria for a truly great show.

Posted May 21, 2015

sold • private collection beverly hills, ca

 
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